Cheltenham lapdancers cleared of kidnapping

From left to right: Stephanie Pye, Rachel Goodchild, Mandy Cool and Charlotte Devaney
Image caption Stephanie Pye, Rachel Goodchild, Mandy Cool and Charlotte Devaney, were cleared of the charges

Three lapdancers and their manager have been cleared of kidnapping a club boss.

Curtis Woodman alleged the four women and two "heavies" forced him into a car and robbed him in September 2012 in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

Dancers Mandy Cool, Rachel Goodchild and Stephanie Pye, and manager Charlotte Devaney, had worked for him during the Cheltenham Festival.

Brothers Robert Morris, 27, and Alexander Morris, 23, were also cleared of kidnap.

DJ and producer Ms Devaney, 34, collaborated with US rapper Snoop Dogg on her latest single, Flip It, and was in the Hollywood comedy film How To Lose Friends and Alienate People with actor Simon Pegg.

'Invented' the kidnap

During the trial Ms Davaney told Bristol Crown Court Mr Woodman had concocted the kidnap story to avoid paying them more than £42,000. She said 19 women had been left unpaid.

"He invented all of this," she said. "You don't make girls take their clothes off and then not pay them to work. It is not a moral thing to do."

Ms Devaney recruited 60 lapdancers to work at Mr Woodman's pop-up nightclub which was closed by authorities on its third night.

The court heard Mr Woodman refused to pay Ms Devaney and the dancers, claiming they had breached contracts agreeing to wear nipple tassels and bikinis, leading to the club being shut down.

Mr Woodman said six months later, the women arrived at his work in Tewkesbury.

He said he was threatened with a knife, robbed of £60 cash and his £4,650 Breitling watch, and made to transfer £4,800 into Ms Devaney's bank account.

He said he was then dumped on a residential street.

'Fight for liberty'

Ms Devaney, from London, Ms Cool, 29, of Southampton, Ms Pye, 31, from Sutton Coldfield and Ms Goodchild, 24, also from Southampton, were cleared by the jury following a three-and-a-half-week trial.

Speaking outside court, Ms Devaney said: "It is the right verdict. We are now looking forward to getting on with our lives now."

Alex and Robert Morris, from Southampton, also denied two counts of robbery.

Alex Morris was convicted of the two robbery charges, while Robert Morris was cleared of both.

Robert Morris said: "I'm ecstatic. I had to fight for my liberty in that courtroom for weeks - it just wasn't right."

Alex Morris, who previously admitted carrying a craft knife on the day of the incident, will be sentenced on 10 February.

Civil proceedings against Mr Woodman for the £42,000 are ongoing.

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